India and England’s fifth Test match was called off just hours ago due to a number of COVID cases in the Indian camp on Friday. The five-match Test Series heading into its final chapter came to a halt as India currently lead the series at 2-1.
The ECB on Friday had released a statement confirming the cancellation of the Test match after a number of COVID cases in the Indian camp. It said that the Indian side forfeited but the ECB quickly rowed back and confirmed the decisions are still ongoing.
Though, ECB confirmed on Friday that if the match gets rescheduled it would be a stand-alone match. The BCCI and the ECB are considering options for the rescheduled Test. It would be difficult to play a Test in the coming days since the players need to assemble with their teams in IPL. The second phase of the IPL begins on September 19 in UAE.
With a packed calendar for the players, it also becomes mentally difficult to play in such strict conditions. Since the COVID-19 outbreak players have had to adhere to stricter bio-bubbles. The Indian team have been in England since June playing the World Test Championship Final.
Following it, India began the test series with England from August 4 in a bio-bubble. Since the Tests began a number of COVID cases came in the Indian camp and on the last day ahead of the fifth Test a support staff tested positive.
Playing at this level week after week is difficult – ECB Chief Executive
The Chief Executive of ECB Tom Harrison spoke to the BBC on the prospects of the game, he said,
“Playing at this level, week after week, is difficult. Even if we feel we are emerging from the pandemic, life is different for the players. When Covid creeps into an environment, it can accelerate very quickly. Hopefully we can get this Test on some other time, but it won’t be the same as it having the conclusion after four brilliant matches.”
When asked about the result of the series he said,
“That’s not one for today. Today is all about making sure we have fronted this in terms of what has happened, why it has happened, what the situation is with respect to the immediate turn. Thoughts will turn to that soon. That is not a decision for us, it’s a decision for ICC to think about in the context of the World Test Championship.”
“Nobody is trying to score points here. It’s about making the right decisions given the context of what’s taking place and to be fair to each side. That is all we are asking for and that process will take place over the coming weeks. It is not something that concerns us unduly. We just expect the people that are in place to make those decisions make those decisions”
The WTC does not allow the match to happen if COVID has had a significant impact to field a side. But given that none of the 20 players contracted with the virus it could get a bit ugly for the visitors. The ICC may decide on the outcome of the series whether to consider a four-match series.
If the rescheduled is confirmed to be a one-off India would take the series by 2-1.